For The Love of Chocolate Beet Pound Cake

Chocolate Beet? So you wanna eat more veggies? You keep saying you do. But I am starting to doubt your strength of commitment in this area.

Take my personal favorite veggie. The beet. Both beetroot and beet greens are very powerful cleansers and builders of the blood. Beets are loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C. The greens have a higher content of iron compared to spinach. They are also an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium, and iron. So they are very very good for you. Yet you resist eating them.

I am not your mother, however, and this is not a nutrition blog. It’s an “I am crazy in love with food and you should be too blog.” But who says love can’t be good for you?

And because I have a healthy love/love relationship with beets I come here and push them on you whenever I can.

I have used them in a salad, an interesting, spicy salad that even included the beet greens. You looked the other way.

I tried to cajole you with the prettiest pasta you’ve ever seen. I even steeped beets in rum hoping to get you to enjoy them at cocktail hour. But still, you beat back my beets!

Harrumph… is all I have to say.


red beetsSo I am going to try one more time. Only this time I am going to start with the word –  chocolate! So drop that Ding-Dong ‘cuz that’s not cake!

I got Chocolate-Beet Pound Cake with Hazelnuts & Crème Anglaise for you, now that’s cake!

Still, this is a pound cake with chocolate and beets. Don’t expect a chocolate cake. That’s what Ding-Dongs are for you ding-dong! Neither should you expect a cake that tastes like beets.

This is a classic pound cake, with a ton of butter and plenty of rich egg. It is dense. It is intense in the way that good pound cake should be.

Because of all these reasons you really need no more than a half-inch slice of this cake, this is the mother in me looking out for you.

But typically the food lover in me beats out the mother in me so I have made this rich pound cake even richer with a classic cre¨me anglaise. See I told you this was an “I am crazy in love with food and you should be too blog”

Chocolate-Beet Pound Cake with Hazelnuts & Crème Anglaise serves 20 CLICK here for a printable recipe



  • 2 medium raw beets, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 c plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 1⁄2 c plus 2 tablespoons sifted then measured all-purpose flour
  • 1 c finely chopped hazelnuts
  • 1⁄2 t kosher salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 2 c granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1⁄2 c simple syrup (see recipe section)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Crème Anglaise

  • 2 c half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1⁄2 c sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

pound cake mise en placeCake

Put the peeled and chopped beets into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment. Put the lid on and pulse the beets 3 or 4 times, then run the machine about 10 seconds. The beets should be finely chopped, but not yet pureed.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10″ x6” loaf pan, then dust the buttered surface with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.

In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons nuts with the finely chopped hazelnuts. Set aside. Into a larger bowl sift the remaining flour, remaining cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Afterward use a whisk to make sure the cocoa is well and evenly distributed.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on high speed until light and very fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and the beets. Continue mixing until well incorporated.

This next step should be done by hand to avoid over-mixing. Stir 1/3 of the flour mixture into the beat mixture, followed by 1/3 of the milk. Repeat two more times with the remaining flour and milk. Folding in the pecan on the last addition. Mix until just incorporated.

Spoon the thick batter into the loaf pan. It will nearly fill the pan. This cake is dense and will not rise a lot. Bake the cake for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will crack in baking. This is no problem.

Let the cake cool in the pan and on a rack about 20 minutes, then carefully remove it from the pan setting it cracked side up back onto the rack. Place a plate under the rack. Using a pastry brush, brush the simple syrup over all the outside surfaces. Repeat this process while the cake is still warm 3 or 4 times until all the simple syrup is gone. Let the cake cool completely, about 1 hour. Just before serving dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and some crème anglaise on the side (recipe follows)

Crème Anglaise

Set a large fine strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a shallow pan of cold water.

In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half and vanilla bean and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes.

In another medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks just until combined. Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened slightly 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Serve right away or refrigerate until chilled.


Greg Henry


Chocolate Beet